Biden has promised to defend transgender rights. But he’s rejected calls to protect trans migrants stuck in immigration detention.
Joe Biden has positioned himself as the strongest presidential champion of transgender people in US history.
He has supported trans rights in schools, the military, federal prisons and healthcare, and he directly affirmed trans people in his first joint address to Congress, saying, “I want you to know your president has your back.”
But so far his administration has rejected calls to protect one of the most vulnerable groups of trans people: migrants who are stuck in US immigration detention where, reports show, they have faced severe abuse, discrimination and medical neglect.
“I am a human being. I’m just asking for an opportunity to stay in the United States and to be free and be safe,” said Maura Martinez, a 41-year-old trans woman from Nicaragua, in a recent call from inside a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) jail in San Diego. She has been held in Ice detention for more than two years.
The hardships of trans people in Ice jails have been well documented since the Obama administration. Trans women are often housed with men, and vice versa. A 2013 US government report found that nearly one in four substantiated cases of sexual assault in Ice detention involved a trans victim, with multiple cases of of trans women abused by guards.
Data has also shown that trans detainees are routinely placed in solitary confinement, allegedly for their own protection, sometimes for weeks or months on end. One report found that trans detainees were held in Ice for 99 days on average, twice as long as the overall average length of detention. In recent years, two trans women who had HIV and were seeking asylum in the US died after they were, according to legal complaints, denied medical care.
By Sam Levin for THE GUARDIAN
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